- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (October 13, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1596910216
- ASIN: B000VYFA1O
- Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,081,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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iPod, Therefore I Am Paperback – Bargain Price, September 15, 2005
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Here, he purports to show how his new ability to compact the soundtrack of his life into a hand-held device, his encounters with the eras of glam, punk, disco, jazz, and a lot of classic and unclassifiable rock can all be plumbed for significance. He concludes that the iPod emerges as the most significant example within his memory of how technology influences content, or the consumption of content. A good thesis, but even in only a couple of hundred smallish pages with generous margins, the concision of this observation does not need such extended personal validation. The threads tying his initiation into the lair of the white box to all of the patterns from the rest of what he includes here as his life look unravelled and frayed.
I agree with Jones' ratings of Sgt Pepper & Exile on Main Street, but not his assessment of Siouxsie & the Banshees' The Scream of "Pere Ubu's 'difficult' second album." I disagree that the 80s per se were best symbolized by the rise of the CD; most people of us (at least outside of London's New Romantic jetset) only were acquiring discs near the end of the decade, the talismanic LP's powers fading gradually, most noticeably only at the decade's close. I agree with his succinct, suitably elegant profile of Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry.
Jones adds his own memories to an overview of how miniaturized electronics shifted from utility of function (power & data) to unity of links (WWW & networks) and now to the pleasure of the "personal computer" (or Mac) hedonist (iPods & PowerBooks. He recalls his pop music journalism for i-D, relates a few of the scenes he saw at clubs, tries to summarize how the 80s designer hedonism engendered today's total selling of products as lifestyle trends, and argues that the 5% of the world hip and tuned in to trends before everyone else in the 70s has also given way to a fusion of marketing niches and massive consumer buy-in to fetishizing consumption.
These points are made sensibly and easily, and Jones often either amuses or confounds by mixing an impressively wide familarity of what he stocks his 40GB iPod with with songs both of a dully familiar hum and totally obscure, record-geek squawk. He recounts the effects the iPod has on his life. He notes the reactions of his friends. Confusingly, he boasts of his enormous record collection, but then seems to imply all of it was uploaded judiciously to his 40GB library with room to spare. How large his presumably vast (given his profession and avocation) musical storehouse in its original storage appears in my estimation far less in bulk and raw potential than I would have predicted.
The chapters on Steve Jobs, the 80s, and some of his musical ruminations about disco and jazz appear as if from other material Jones had prepared aside from his chronicled courtship of his own iPod. I get the sense that this sporadically reappearing rationale for the book-length report would have been better limited to a 5000 word article. What could have been told quite well as a long feature here gets dispersed into a diffused cultural commentary such as Kahney or Reynolds produced-- as mingled with a musical autobiography similar to that (with both protagonists sharing a few lists) fictionalized in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. Or Hornby's own recollections as non-fictional musings in a similar key, Songbook.
All of Jones' pieces are not joined. For example, how or if he manages to convert his uploaded audio files from the good AAC to the great AIFF format is left unclear as he recounts that episode. His book ends with an admission that the magical white box has worsened his collecting affliction. The magical device combined with the power of the Net that can retrieve ever more scarce songs compounds his acquisition addiction. Other chapters cover seduction and the right tune; the evolution of MP3s; glam and punk as Jones bought into them; the links between Macs, Apple, and PCs; how the "portable open database" that would be the POD with the "I" of the Internet inspired Jonathan Ive's design; and ITunes delivery. All these parts have potential as self-contained essays, but their cohesion into this assemblage of fifteen chapters needs further elucidation.
Jones leaves his demonstration of the iPod and its impacts on society incomplete. That and a bit on how the iPod can help speed seduction are the contents. This ultimately brief book feels much longer, and not all for the good of the reader in its meandering contents. A working draft & promising thesis, but this version needed lots more revision before it should have been published. P.S. For an editor, Jones should have checked that the RCA MP3 player is not called "Lycra," and that HP's now-disgraced dictator given the moniker of Carlton P. did not feminize her name quite so drastically as to be "Cary" Fiorina.